Here's a little secret Dig Nation, sometimes, I do judge a book by it's cover. In fact, I do it a lot. I do it at the grocery store while looking at egg cartons. I do it at the liquor store while deciding which new beers to try, and I do it while perusing through TWD submission emails. Strike that, I do it a lot while going through submissions. I don't even bother with emails that use words like remix, dub, mash up, or versus, and I hardly ever pay attention to any thing that starts their genre-title off with the word dream. In all fairness, it is awesome that starting this music blog has brought an entire world of music into my inbox on a daily basis, but let's get real, ain't nobody got time for that.
Regardless, the other day I was going through my emails, making sweeping generalizations left and right, when I encountered a very curious name – Bryan John Appleby. Let's start with that, if this name was anymore prototypically American folk singer it would have to be something like Ramblin' Arlo Bunyan or Hank Mickey Wayne. Subsequently, when you couple the name with an absolutely epic beard (take notes gentleman because B.J.A. sets the new gold standard in beards) you've officially got my curiosity and it's time for a legitimate listen.
Upon first glance I see that this beardly singer/songwriter has a sizable video collection with excellent production value, and furthermore, he has a Sufjan Stevens cover of John Wayne Gacy Jr.
As I said, I already liked this guy before I even heard him. The muted colors, the beard, the boots, the simplicity of setting, it's all good. However, when he begins to play it's clear that he can back this image up with the content. His guitar playing is not only clean, it's also musical. There is clear use of musical shape, phrasing, and dynamics and while all this may seem pretty elementary, when you turn on the radio all you hear in terms of this discussion is loud/soft & fast/slow, nothing in between – seriously. Coupling with this refreshing guitar work is Bryan John Appleby's voice. His tone is warm, supported, in tune, and surprising adept at mimicking Sufjans Steven's own curious vocal timbre.
Next, I find a collection of videos from a series he did with Kevin Ihle called Fuel/Friends Chaple Sessions. These were shot in Colorado Springs way back in 2011 and are a beautiful collection of videos. The space is wonderful not just to look at and enjoy aesthetically, but the acoustics make for a powerful performance alongside Bryan John Appleby's booming voice.
Finally, I stop off at Bryan John Appleby's official webpage and bandcamp page. Now I didn't mention it earlier in the article but B.J.A. is a:
Seattle based songwriter [who] spent winter last year holed up with close friends and producer Alan Matley in a Ballard warehouse banging pots and jars, plucking strings, and plunking pianos. What emerged from these musical ramblings was the long awaited debut full-length Fire on the Vine. The album elaborates on his affinity for organic soundscapes and acoustic found sounds.
For the past few days I've had the album on loop in my apartment and have immensely enjoyed Fire on the Vine. This eleven track testimonial draws on the intimate strength of the singer/songwritter's pacific northwest melancholia and introduces just the right amount of orchestration to keep the listener engaged and wanting more. This is the kind of album that draws me closer to my own guitars and farther from my laptop.
Listen to it below and then support our man by purchasing your download or better yet buy it on wax for the low price of $15. You can also stay in touch with the artist via Facebook and Twitter so you can keep up with his busy touring schedule. You dig?